View Mobile Site
 

Ask the Expert

Signal Photos

 

Duo comes to rescue of Iwo Jima veteran

• VA demands that 87-year-old man return nearly $4,000 in overpayments it made to him.

Posted: May 1, 2008 1:28 a.m.
Updated: July 2, 2008 5:03 a.m.
 
An Agua Dulce woman and a fellow "Devil Dog" Marine are among those showing their support for one particular troop - a U.S. Marine who fought at Iwo Jima now asked to pay $4,000 to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Wendy, who asked that her last name not be used, wants to set things right between retired Staff Sgt. Carl Diekman of the U.S. Marines Fifth Division and the federal agency demanding he return $3,936 in overpayments made to him.

"I just wanted to send money, out of my heart," she told The Signal Wednesday. "And, I hope to send him money regularly. We've got military in my family, and when I read the story I thought 'If anyone deserves $84 a month, he does.'"

Wendy said she sent copies of The Signal article to friends at the Edwards Air Force Base.

"My boyfriend is in the military and he wants to send him $100.

Whether it goes to his legal fund or for a nice dinner, he deserves it."

On Monday, The Signal reported that Diekman, 87, was apparently re-evaluated by the VA office after he returned a form that asked about his marital status.

Diekman served in Iwo Jima during spring 1945 battle that saw five Marines and one U.S. Navy serviceman raise the United States flag on Mount Suribachi, a moment captured by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal.

Diekman also served in the Korean War in 1950 and 1951.

He married shortly after that and stayed married until 2003 when his wife died.

Father of five, with a daughter who died at age 3, Diekman has 10 grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.

He notified the VA of his change in status when he remarried and then, because of the change in marital status, was apparently no longer eligible for the monthly $84 check.

The VA office sent him has last check four months ago, then followed it up with an order to pay $3,936 in overpayments.

One man identifying himself as a former Marine responded to Diekman's story in an e-mail stating: "My future father-in-law (a USAF veteran) forwarded me the story on Carl Diekman.

"Being a fellow Marine, I was wondering if there was any sort of fund to help this Devil Dog in his time of need. My family doesn't have a lot, but we would like to help this obviously forgotten American hero."

The e-mail is signed: "Semper Fi, Carl W. Burney" with a post-script:

"I am a former Marine myself. And seeing as how Iwo Jima is one of the Corps most cherished moments ... I take this to heart in an extreme manner."

Attempts to reach someone at the Department of Veterans Affairs Wednesday were not successful. None of the VA correspondence received by Diekman includes a name.

A man who answered the phone at the Board of Veterans Appeals office told The Signal Wednesday: "This is a status line. We deal only with vets."

Repeated calls made throughout the day to the only 1-800 phone number attached to the VA documents sent to Diekman reached only a busy tone until the end of the day when a phone message listed the office hours of operation.

Now, the man whom the younger kids in his clan call 'Buddy' and whom the older ones see as a "gentle giant," sits in his mobile home in Granada Villa on Soledad Canyon Road and waits for the Board of Veterans Appeals to rule on his appeal.

"His door is always open and he will do anything to help others," his daughter Margo Courtier wrote in a letter to The Signal. "It is sad to see this situation happen to him."

Comments

Commenting not available.
Commenting is not available.

 
 

Powered By
Morris Technology
Please wait ...